Cole was a pivotal figure in revolutionizing American attitudes toward wilderness, and his White Mountain paintings were central to this transformation. Christopher Johnson asserts, “Cole made the White Mountain Wilderness beautiful; and through his canvases, he taught the American public not only to see the wilderness but to value it and embrace it. Moreover, the paintings helped to establish Mount Washington and other White Mountain landmarks as highly visible symbols of the American wilderness.” (67)
JUMPING AHEAD ALMOST 200 YEARS, but in the spirit of Thomas Cole and the Hudson River School, are the environmental artists and ecoartists of today. Environmental art is a broad term, like “painting,” which can encompass a range of media and approaches. One of the key distinctions between environmental art and ecoart is the latter embraces an environmental ethic, and it often seeks to improve environmental conditions, which might include remediating a damaged ecosystem as well as addressing the human attitudes that may have caused such damage.